KARACHI: The Darakhshan police are alarmed that they could be possibly looking at more than one rape in the course of investigating an alleged gang rape that took place in DHA over the weekend.
Officers have been questioning the owner of a flat Lal Chand, where a party took place on Sunday. A woman K was raped after she left the gathering. Clifton SP Tariq Dharejo clarified that the flat owner Lal Chand, a businessman and property dealer, did not organise the party, however. It was held by a friend of his, identified as Sultan, who did this frequently. “A day before, Sultan had organized a party in the same flat,” said the SP.
The police are questioning Lal Chand’s servant, who claims that he was at the flat the night of the rape. “Initially, he said the gang rape had taken place inside the flat,” said Dharejo. “He said he was sleeping but was woken when he heard a girl screaming for help.” The SP added, however, that the police were treating his slowly unravelling story with extreme caution. Much cross-questioning will be in the works as the police suspect the servant is being “overly clever” and could be biased towards his employers.
Nonetheless, these unverified revelations have worried the police that rapes may have been taking place at the flat. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, three men detained for questioning, were released. They are believed to be Javed Iqbal, Nadeem and Saud who worked as watchmen and peons. Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) chief Ahmed Chinoy told The Express Tribune that they were tracked with the help cell phone records and car trackers.
“That party is what the case revolves on,” said SP Dharejo. “The story will develop from what happened from that point. We have collected a great deal of evidence.” They have sent the clothes of the accused for DNA testing. “We also know the movements of the car the victims were in through the car-tracking device.” DIG South Iqbal Mehmood and Dharejo told The Express Tribune that none of the suspects were the alleged attackers but had attended the party.
Ironically, while police and government officials openly named the alleged victims of rape and assault to journalists, the police are now upset with the media for disclosing the name of one of the suspects.
When asked about progress in the investigation, DIG South Iqbal Mehmood retorted, “Well, the progress has gone for a six after what the media has done. They released everything on television ... the name of the suspect etc. We have not been able to get the rest of the accomplices because they have all bloody well run away.”
DSP Zameer Ahmed Abbasi remarked that they would have finalised this case by Tuesday, but as the media had disclosed the name of the suspect, his accomplices have run away. “Karachi is not a small city,” he said. “It is easy to hide if someone wants to.”
The victims’ professions and character were still a focus. “The women were call girls,” DIG Mehmood said. “They were at the party for six hours, from 10:20 pm to 4:20 am, so we are getting information on who was at the party, who left early etc. We are also questioning the friends of M (alleged rape victim K’s friend who filed the First Information Report).”
In a marked contrast, Dharejo refused to comment on the victims’ profession. “I cannot say anything at this point. I am leading the investigation and it would be bad of me to do so.”
The CPLC’s Chinoy told The Express Tribune that the investigation has so far had been “quite satisfactory”.
“I am in constant contact with the women,” he said. “They are cooperating with the police.” Dharejo said the women were cooperating “because they can see that the police is investigating and has made headway on the case.” Chinoy said arrangements have been made to provide counselling to the women.
Meanwhile, some law-enforcement officials in Clifton and DHA were clueless about the case’s progress. When asked about the arrest of one of the suspects, a police officer quipped, “Well, the entire Clifton police are acting on the case - they must have caught someone!” A protest against the alleged gang-rape is being held near Do Talwar in Karachi on December 24.
CPLC says to Karachi: “Don’t panic”
Citizens-Police Liaison Committee chief Ahmed Chinoy said the people of Karachi should not panic because of the case. “This is an out-of-the-blue incident. There is no gang involved. The public should not worry and this is not a situation where there is a law and order problem. The conditions of the city have not changed overnight - it is the same as it was yesterday.”
When asked about advice for women travelling alone in Karachi, especially to and from weddings and New Year parties which end in the late hours, Chinoy said, “In any case it is advisable to not go out so late at night; we don’t want our mothers and daughters to be out that late. Our advice is to not be a ‘soft target’, make sure you are accompanied by someone instead of going alone.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2010.
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